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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

HUMORISTS,   SATIRISTS,   SATANISTS,   VISIONARIES    63

the delicacy of feeling that weaves a wistful music through the
best of his elegiac verse (Meine Verse, 1895), with its flawless form
(especially in rhymeless metres), he never did more than write for
the moods of the moment, his own and the public's. In his life he
lived defiantly through the scandal of the man with two wives;
and in his case there was the unedifying spectacle after his death
of the two women fighting, by the publication of his letters to
them, for his body. His fun is delightfully naughty in his short
stories Die Geschichte vom abgerissenen Knopf (i%<)5\ Vom gastfreien
Pastor (1895), Der rormsche Maler (1898), and Uebe kleim Mama
(1904). He is fond of placing the scenes of his fiction in his native
district, the Harz Mountains. In his comedies he tilts at the absur-
dities of decent society (from which, an utter Bohemian, he ex-
cluded himself) and at morality, which, in common with many of
the exponents of Consistent Naturalism, he regarded as unnatural.
In Angele (1890) this contempt of morality bears the impress of
Nietzsche; in Hanna ]agert (1893) the characters progress from
Socialism to Nietzschean autocracy; in Die Er^iehung^urEbe (1893)
and Die sittlicbe Forderung (1897; the theme parodies Sudermann's
Heimat) the cult of immorality is yet more flagrant. He shared the
admiration of his fellow poets for Ibsen, but parodied the master's
later symbolist manner in Der Froscb (1891). His one-act play
Abschiedvom ILegiment^ like Sudermann's Frit^cben and Schnitzler's
ILeutnant Gustl, plays with the time-honoured conception of mili-
tary honour, while his very successful but theatrical Kosenmontag
(1900) was one of those few plays of the pre-War period - Franz
Adam Beyerlein's (1871-1949) Zapfenstreich (1903) was another -
which attacked (and got away with it) the arrogance and profligacy
of the Prussian military caste; the play has at least the merit -
which it shares with certain of the Sturm und Drang dramas - of
putting the superiority of caste feeling to the question.

Of the three Ottos who were the accredited humorists of natur-
alism OTTO ERNST (1862-1926) was the only one with any of the
milk of human kindness. Neither Bierbaum nor Hartleben could
have written, as Otto Ernst did (e.g. Appelschnut\ delightful books
for children. As a native of Hamburg (he was born in Ottensen)
he has that rough Low German dialect colouring which - par-
ticularly by contrast with the cynical Munich wit of Simplicissimm
- seems so boisterously healthy. Himself an elementary school-
1 In Die Befreiten. Bin Einakter-Zjklns (1899).